Since you are reading this blog, I am assuming you are interested in experiencing the Divine. In this blog and the next one, I will be discussing the different ways one can have this experience based on my spiritual journey thus far. I will also draw your attention to certain barriers that may be standing in your way.
I personally have longed to experience the Divine since I was a kid. I expressed this desire by constantly having an internal battle with the concept of God when growing up. At first, I was angry at God because It wasn’t there when I needed It. Then, I decided that God does not exist, and I became an atheist around my teenager years. Later, I became an agnostic; I believed that an impersonal power created everything and everyone randomly. It is not till a lot later that I came to term with God, and I started believing in a creator. But how can one experience the Divine?
Many can experience the Divine through faith. If you have faith, I think it is wonderful. But I am not someone who can have a blind belief into something without proof. Today, many share this attitude because we are taught to prioritize science and logic. Moreover, my upbringing led me to lose trust in organized religions. I was brought up in Lebanon where civil war between different religions waged for several years because every religion believed in its supremacy over the others; They believed they are the chosen ones, and others are nothing but infidels, going straight to hell. This never made sense to me because we are all God’s children. Therefore, I could not rely on faith to experience the Divine. I needed either proof or a personal experience of the Divine. Since proof is improbable in this realm, I opted for a possible experience of the Divine through yoga.
Through the spiritual practice of yoga (referred to in India as “sadhana”)?
A few years back, I discovered Sadhguru on YouTube. I heard him speak about classical yoga as a ladder to the Divine, an experiential way of the Divine. This is when I jumped on an airplane and headed to India. I was tired of lectures, philosophies, and methodologies. I wanted a personal experience of the Divine. I certainly did not want to wait till I die to have it, as promised by many of the organized religions.
To clarify, the classical yoga from the East, the one referred to above (such as Isha Yoga, the one I teach), was never meant to be a stretching practice the way it is considered here in the West. It still imparts all the physical benefits, but it was always meant to be a spiritual path to the Divine. It is a science to help you become conscious and overcome your compulsions and life’s cyclical patterns. It helps you to become flexible, not only physically, but also psychologically and emotionally so you are no longer stuck by your concretized personality or your genetic and past/karmic memories.
With that being said, classical yoga can be essential on the spiritual path. But in my experience, being on sadhana and the spiritual journey for a few years now, yoga on its own is not enough; It is a means to an end. It is a science of preparing the body and mind so one can meditate and experience meditativeness. It is through meditation that one can reach higher states of consciousness – states where one can experience the Divine. It is only in meditation that I personally came to significant, life transforming realizations.
Another reason why sadhana alone is not enough is because it can be stripped of its spirituality and become a physical workout without devotion. Sadhguru speaks about this in many articles and YouTube videos.
What is devotion? Devotion is to be devoted to something or someone in such a way that your attention, emotion, thoughts, and everything become single-pointed in one direction where there’s no more focus on you. This devotion could be to your God/the Divine, guru, etc. You become in a state of union with what or who you’re devoted to. And that’s yoga.
I stress on here: no more focusing on you. The following are a couple of examples of how this can be practiced: one way is to do the yoga practices as a gift to who/what you’re devoted to. Another example is when you are listening to music or a chant. If your feelings and attention are all with the music/chant and you forget yourself, this is also devotion. Therefore, Nada Yoga (sound yoga) can be a very powerful spiritual practice.
So, devotion means you are no longer the center of attention; you no longer worry about what’s going to happen to you or how you benefit from your actions. All you care about is that ONE thing you’re devoted to. When you’re out of the way, you can naturally experience the Divine.
In conclusion, faith and yoga, along with meditation and devotion can be means to experiencing the Divine.
However, there are barriers to experiencing the Divine. Limiting believes about ourselves and our relationship with God or the Divine can stand in the way. Also, many of us may follow the spiritual path to escape certain emotional and psychological problems. In this case, we may not be able to experience the Divine or our divinity before facing these problems. I will touch upon these issues in the next blog. Stay tuned.
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